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10/8/04

by the people, for the people # 2

I meet with a local activist and a local journalist. They both say, this is where the change needs to be made, in places like this. It's one thing to be in a big city where there are other people who think like you. But here this is where awareness needs to be raised, and you have to work together with people, instead of splitting off into factions. It's an uphill battle, the activist says, and often when there's anything happening you're the one organizing it. But he's been at it for 11 years, and many of the people he's worked with have started their own organizations. He's basically hopeful

Later on I meet with 3 high school students. There are basically two kinds of people, one of them says. There are those who just want to live in a bubble. They just want everything to be safe, they want everything to be the same, and they're afraid of change. Then there are people who don't mind crowds or noise, or people who are different--like multiculturalism. At the same time, they wonder whether change (in this case population growth due to immigration) will dissolve a sense of social cohesion, which could be the worry of those who fear change.

Does it come down to those 'two kinds of people': those who embrace change and complexity and those who fear it (which current voting patterns in the US seem to reflect, despite the fact that there isn't much difference between the candidates)? Are people's minds already made up, and so public debate is not necessary?

This is to return to the question I began with, and which remains unanswered: what is the relationship, or lack of relationship between a lifestyle (the embrace of noise, crowds and people who are different, or the fear of them) and a politics?